This year’s Liveworx, due to the global situation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, has exceptionally been held only online. On the very first day it was announced that a new version of ThingWorx 9.0 – the most popular platform maximizing the potential of the industrial Internet of Things – will be released for commercial use. According to the announcements of Joe Biron, CTO responsible for IoT technology at PTC, it is supposed to be faster, cheaper and more effective.
Horizontal scalability and High Availability in ThingWorx 9.0
When analyzing the definition of scalability, two basic approaches should be distinguished: vertical and horizontal. Vertical scalability is about increasing computing power or performance of a server by modifying hardware parameters, like adding or replacing processors, memory, etc. After a certain period of time, vertical scaling is no longer useful as adding more hardware does not improve server performance. An alternative approach is horizontal scaling, which, contrary to expanding a single server to the limits of its performance, focuses on connecting multiple servers to each other in such a way as to take advantage of their synergy potential.
The issue of scalability of ThingWorx-based applications appeared in numerous conversations with our clients already at the solution planning stage. The scope of the competition, the pace of change that is happening all over the place – these are just some of the challenges faced by companies operating nowadays. Global players, and more and more often also those operating on a smaller scale, fully understand the necessity of investing in Industry 4.0 solutions. Increasing the amount of transmitted data from new devices or increasing the number of new end users cannot be an obstacle to further development. We need solutions that collect and analyze this data, no matter how much data there is. Moreover, the implementation itself shall run smoothly and the financial expenses made shall quickly pay for themselves. The latest version of ThingWorx is the answer to these needs.
At the beginning of this year, Transition Technologies PSC was given the opportunity to test the Beta version of ThingWorx 9.0, showing trust and confirming the high quality of cooperation with PTC. As part of the High Availability tests, we built a cluster based on active-active configuration. The technical details of this configuration will be described in a separate article, but we can already claim that ThingWorx has found an answer to clients’ concerns by becoming a fully scalable solution.
Upgrading existing solutions
Scalability is not the only change released with the new version of the Platform. The new version of the software has improved the performance of many tools and extensions that enhance the capabilities of ThingWorx Foundation. An important improvement concerns modeling and verifiability of predictive results in ThingWorx Analytics. Existing capabilities have been enhanced by improving access to data from edge devices and, consequently, more up-to-date information. An important improvement is an increase in the number of options to be configured, without having to write code – creating a predictive model considering a variable confidence factor. Enabling the configuration of modeled neural networks regarding multilayers, settings or methods of model learning, increases the possibility of testing various options on available data to make predictions as close to reality as possible.
Another change introduced by the new ThingWorx concerns the Connectivity area. The smooth integration of ThingWorx Kepware, Microsoft Azure and the ThingWorx platform is based on the OPC-UA standard so that data from edge devices can be delivered to cloud solutions. The collaboration with Rockwell Automation, on the other hand, has resulted in an extension of the option to connect to other systems by enabling subscriptions to data and events from Rockwell FactoryTalk Historian. The connectivity to edge devices has also been expanded by adding new extensions for the JAVA SDK, while improving support for Android-based solutions. It also provides a fast and secure way to deliver content to edge devices using Software Content Management for .Net SDK. Such an extension of the range of available solutions and technologies has increased the ability to adapt to different conditions and create customized solutions based on differences in a specific work environment.
When it comes to ThingWorx Navigate, which supports PLM with another PTC product – Windchill, the options to import and export part structures have been improved, the option to view individual parts has been improved, and the installation and upgrade of cloud hosted implementations has been enhanced.
PTC is also working on solutions that help users of ThingWorx to use this tool even more efficiently and easily. In the 8.5 version it is possible to cooperate with Solution Central – a cloud solution designed for both developers and administrators, which functions as a repository for the configuration of developed applications. With this extra service it is possible to prepare a complete application, which, after being sent to the cloud by the developer, can then be implemented by the administrator in one or more target environments. The new version of Solution Central enables filtering, among others, all active deployment requests, inactive instances or removed applications.
When implementing any new functionality, as well as when modifying existing ones, there is a great focus on data and application security. Removing identified security vulnerabilities is obviously an ongoing process, but it is a must in order to maintain market position. Ignoring this element would expose clients to serious losses and the platform itself to a loss of trust among clients using the created solutions. An important element of secure applications from the business point of view is also building trust between the customer and the service provider. ThingWorx 9.0 is another version of the software, which raises the issue of digital security to an even higher level. By using ThingWorx Flow, you can delegate authorization, which facilitates the use of integrated applications in engineering, manufacturing and services. Meanwhile, the ThingWorx SDK offers even better SSL/TLS support by providing support for the latest OpenSSL version.
Realizing the necessity of continuous search for new solutions and upgrades to existing ones, PTC has identified areas on which they are concentrating in the further development of ThingWorx:
- developing existing engineering, manufacturing and service solutions;
- development of the Digital Thread concept using PLM, the industrial Internet of Things and ThingWorx Analytics;
- solutions using artificial intelligence;
- the evolution of the digital twin using the power of artificial intelligence;
- unification of dispersed architecture of Industrial Internet of Things solutions;
- overcoming existing limits by achieving hyper scale, hyper-availability and increased management capacity.
If you need help with implementing new or upgrading existing solutions based on ThingWorx, please contact us.